News Article

Talking Point: Are Rereleases Killing the Retro Market?

Posted by Karl Thomson

We sink our teeth into plummeting retro prices

MTV Multiplayer recently published an article detailing the decline in value of sought-after videogame classics after their rerelease on download platforms such as Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade. While it chronicles mainly high- profile games such as Marvel vs. Capcom 2; it’s the Nintendo releases that make for really interesting reading.

Castlevania Dracula X, the last game in the series before Symphony of the Night, was rereleased in 2007 on the PSP. The value of the SNES cart plummeted by almost half before reaching equilibrium at $67.36 now.

Castlevania Dracula X:
Three Year High: $81.25 (July '07)
Three Year Low: $45.00 (October '07)

Next up, the biggie: Chrono Trigger. Arguably the greatest 2D RPG of all time has kept its value really well, still changing hands at more or less its original asking price. It saw a DS revamp in 2008, and the collector’s price dropped by around 40%. Now you can find a copy for a reasonable $44.90.

Chrono Trigger:
Three Year High: $59.00 (December '07)
Three Year Low: $38.37 (November '08)

Bubble Bobble, the NES classic revels in the insanity of collector's price by reaching its 13 months high after its 2007 outing on Virtual Console, then losing more than half its value in 2009. It goes for around $12 now.

Bubble Bobble:
13 Month High: $21.16 (January '08)
13 Month Low: $10.10 (June '09)

While one can appreciate collectors, items and their value, it's preposterous to complain about the decreasing value. The premise of the MTV article was to show how the new distribution models for games have wreaked havoc in the collectors market by throwing values in a loop. Basic economics dictates prices go up when there is a low supply and high demand, while prices go down with a low demand and high supply. Many gamers are now eternally grateful that they can play Chrono Trigger by walking into a game store and buying a new copy instead of trawling eBay and paying over-inflated prices just because it’s rare. The physical retro market is often an exclusionary market, only letting in those who are fuelled with enough nostalgia to part with the cash needed to play some of the classics.

This brings up the somewhat dirty topic of emulation. A quick spot of Google research reveals that you can find and download just about any Nintendo game pre-GameCube with astonishing ease. Emulators, combined with the average modern computer, can produce prettier games with the added bonus of massive convenience. A slightly deeper Google search brings up fan translations that actually supersede the original, making some previously inaccessible titles available in English. ROM files don't break like cartridges do, and you don't need to hook up an older system to enjoy the game.

While ROMs have their benefits, nine times out of ten they are illegal. Games with artificially inflated prices could encourage piracy of older systems - how many average gamers can realistically afford to drop 50 or more dollars on an outdated game that is a logistical nightmare to play? Do you want to go through the massive physical and financial effort of organising a Sega CD (a piece of hardware that loves to break [Really? Mine runs like a dream - Ed]) just to see if they like Night Trap?

The modern distribution channels of WiiWare, XBLA, PSN and remakes/rereleases on portable consoles have given everyone the opportunity the chance to play or revisit classics and forgotten gems in a legal and simple manner. Buying Ogre Battle 64 on eBay for $70 doesn't benefit the publisher or developer either, now our hard-earned cash can go to people who actually deserve it. Collectors, some of us at Nintendo Life included, can sometimes forget the most important aspect of gaming is the sheer joy of it and sharing that joy with friends and peers, not silly prices. One cannot quantify fun, or joy, and playing Chrono Trigger on the move is pure bliss, whatever the price.

[Note: As MTV points out, the indicated prices are what were actually paid for the games, rather than 'value'.]


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User Comments (67)



Corbs said:

While I generally like to own and play the real deal on the original systems, I say getting these timeless classics into more people's hands any way you can is good.



MrPinguy said:

Actually was Rondo of Blood, not Dracula X, that was released on the PSP
(Both an Remake and Original in the same disc with Symphony of the Night.) But since Dracula X is like an non-canon bastard child of Rondo...
The reading of this matter is almost the same.



grenworthshero said:

This is good news for me, as I much prefer to buy the originals, rather than any form of emulation, even if it costs more than twice the price.



Sabrewing said:

@MrPinguy: Dracula X: Rondo of Blood does, in fact, share its name with the SNES game Castlevania: Dracula X. Hell, the only difference between the two in Japan is an extra X in the name (Dracula XX) and the omission of the subtitle "Rondo of Blood".



evilralfwiggum said:

Everyone benefits from rereleases heh. I mean everyone who doesn't own the "expensive" titles. I never kept the expensive or rare games in my collection, never thought it'd be worth it.. and it appears selling the high priced ones was the right thing to do. Now everyone can get their hands on rare games for a lot cheaper too. I bet the people who made the games are happier this way. More people are being able to play their games.



Stuffgamer1 said:

"Many gamers are now eternally grateful that they can play Chrono Trigger by walking into a game store and buying a new copy instead of trawling eBay and paying over-inflated prices just because it’s rare."

This. Re-releases bringing down bullcrap "collector's" prices is a GODSEND! Unless you take this into account, of course:

"Games with artificially inflated prices could encourage piracy of older systems..."

Can you say...EARTHBOUND? #1 cause of SNES emulation by now, I'm sure of it. There will always be people who simply refuse to emulate, but there will also be those who break down and do it because of ONE game...which could turn out to be a gateway game, leading to a life of heavy emulation (pointlessly dramatized ). The point (also needlessly dramatic though it is) being that Earthbound not being on VC COULD theoretically be hurting VC sales of other titles. Yes, I just made that up for the heck of it. Conspiracy theories FTW!



JimLad said:

I agree with Corbie, rereleases are keeping awareness alive.
Imagine if when everyone shifted to DVD, every movie release prior was never rereleased and you could only play them on VHS forever more.
Or if the only way you could listen to Led Zeppelin anymore was on vinyl still.

I buy the originals because I happen to have the old consoles. I'm guessing most people who buy the downloads don't, so they wont be shopping for cartridges anyway. It's only people like me that will pay the stupid prices. The most inflated price I paid was I think about £25 for Alex Kidd in Miracle World (a Master System game), and that had to be a German cart.



V8_Ninja said:

I kinda don't see how this is about "Re-releases Killing the Market". I see more of the "Re-releases are Helping Younger People Enjoy Older Games" part of the argument.



WonderboY101 said:

I can understand the prices dropping for classic retro releases after they've been released as downlaods. I've sold practically every boxed game I that I now have on the VC. For the space and financial reasons.

Collectors aren't really interested in downloads, boxed originals in really good conditon is what they're looking for, so there's still a market there even if it's been eroded somewhat with downloads. Most buyers would go for a download of a rare game than hunt down originals. Some hard-to-find boxed games cost really silly money nowadays. The condition is critical for some of the collectors. On ebay I've taken and sent pictures of edges and corners of my gameboxes on request several times.

Also, I live in a small flat. Every cubic square foot of boxed games that becomes available as downloads means I can sell them and clear the space.

Having said that I really do hope and pray my Wii has the same reliability and lifespan of my retro consoles. Even if the disc drive goes wrong I hope the memory and SD card operation remains intact so I can play my VC games.



madgear said:

I don't see the problem with this at all. Look at the film industry - can you imagine if the only way you could watch Star Wars was by bidding ridiculous amounts on a rare 70's VHS tape? No - you can go into the high street and buy a nice new DVD of it for just a couple of quid. Why should games be any different? Why should only the elite collecters who are willing to pay high prices be the only ones who can enjoy these games?

Though I do think that sometimes games companies simply refuse to re-release classics. I mean what would some of the most anticipated games for re-release be? Shenmue? Panzer Dragoon Saga? Radient Silvergun? They're epic games that everyone should be able to play - I'd like to see all games available at some point - they're works of art and shouldn't be forgotten like this.



ReZon said:

If I were a collector, this would be very irritating. However, since I'm a gamer, I think the re-releases are great. Chrono Trigger on the DS was my first time playing it, despite being a SNES owner since it was first released. CT was just too expensive for me to give it a shot.

I picked up Symphony of the Night last year too for the PSOne in very minty condition for just over $20. This would never have been possible at that price unless it had been re-released elsewhere.

I think there's still value and prestige in owning the original cartridges/disks though - I know I still treasure the ones I have.



WonderboY101 said:

@madgear. I agree with you there should be more classics that are re-released as downloads. Unfortunately, at least on the VC, the trend is going the other way. In some ways I was a bit apprehensive about the list of games for sale on the Megadrive when I first heard about it. There seems less impetus to release new VC games and sales may not help unless somehow it sparks an interest in people buying more VC games at full price as well. I really don't know how profitable the VC is for Nintendo; they seem to concentrating more on DSiware/Wiiware releases.

Hopefully something can be done alongside the sales to generate more interest. It seems to me like the VC's being dying a slow death for quite some time now. There's been no new releases in Europe for the last two weeks since the sale's been up and running.



Raylax said:

It doesn't kill the retro market, it just kills the collector's market. Or at least the profit-mongering side of it. But surely for collectors who actually like collecting rather than making a profit, ie the people who actually give a damn about the carts and merchandise for what they are rather than how many digits it has on eBay, this is a good thing. They can still collect the things they want to, but now they don't have to pay stupid prices for them.
And the rest of us gain access to games we'd otherwise have to pay a fortune for the pleasure. So everyone wins.



Bass_X0 said:

I don't care how I play the games as long as the controller is decent. When you've been engrossed into a game for hours, does it still matter if its a cartridge or download anymore?

Price is also an important factor. Why pay $25 for one NES game when you can pay $25 for five NES games on the VC?

I'd also rather have my whole videogame collection accessible from my little Wii. I had to sell games years ago just to make space since a lot of console cartridges take up room.



WonderboY101 said:

If there's a retro game that's not available (or little prospect of being available) for download that I really want and I own the original machine then I may consider buying the cart or whatever as long as it's not silly money. I'd prefer having a download though.



Tsuchinoko said:

I really don't see the problem. as long as the game is available to play, then thats the goal right?



theblackdragon said:

I hope to see all the games i enjoyed playing growing up re-released someday so that future generations will be able to enjoy them too. screw the resellers; true collectors will always value their original carts/discs regardless of resale value.



edofthe209 said:

@paygar, I understand where that article is coming from, but I don't think it's anything negative to Nintendo. They understand how to market to make a good profit. They understand how to get to the masses. I don't think the Big N should be chastized for being smart. Wanting to change gaming into a fully interactive medium that everyone and their grandmother embraces would be a challence to say the least. Honestly, it seems like too many games are trying to be a interactive movie to me, but I like my simple little fun games.



irken004 said:

I like purchasing the downloadable versions because it's cheaper and more accessible.



Mike1 said:

@12. ReZon
"If I were a collector, this would be very irritating."

Tough luck to them. Collector's who are complaining that it is decreasing the value of their games can suck it.



Starkiller said:

I agree that this is affecting the retro market, but after I downloaded Mario RPG, My brother went and got a copy for 70 dollars. So the retro market's not dead yet, people love to have the originals.



Mike1 said:

@13. WonderboY101
America went threw a dry spell like the one Europe is experiencing now last summer. The VC isn't dying, things will pick up again for you guys.



Token_Girl said:

I like getting original carts for my Genesis, but for the most part, Sega games haven't appreciated to the extent SNES games have. If it was way too expensive to get an original cart for Genesis ($15 or less for cartridge, $25 or less with instruction booklet in general), then I'd have no problems just downloading it. If they do a sale again when I get back, I might download some backups or new games anyway. I'd like to encourage VC sales and $5 for a Genesis game is a good deal.



Mayhem said:

Chrono Trigger is not rare. It's quite common. The price is because it's in demand because it's an excellent title. Not everything pricey is rare, and not everything rare is pricey. Demand has every factor on price as rarity does imo. But I will agree that the recent releases on physical and download mediums of older titles has depressed the value of the originals to a degree. Better for us still looking to obtain said titles, not so good for those looking to sell.



JoeDiddley said:

I used to find it essential as a collector to have something tangible in my hand.
Now I prefer the convenience of downloads, especially on handhelds.



Link977 said:

lol I have Chrono Trigger on my DSi right now, just listening to the music



astarisborn94 said:

To be fair, declining price of retro games is actually going to benefit it. However, piracy is still very, very common, especially since we have yet to get Earthbound on the Virtual Console. IF the game is finally release on there, I can guarenteen you that piracy will go down dramatically.

@Stuffgamer1: Sadly, you are right. That game is in such high demands that it lack of VC release has encouraged millions (Even me sadly) to emulate. Nintendo has to get the game on the Virtual Console, not only will it give us what we asked for five years, it will also slash the piracy market in pieces. Not to mention that me and many other people would give up illegal emulation for good.



motang said:

I think they are, but personally I don't mind. As I never finished Chrono Trigger on the SNES and I don't even have that system or the game anymore so I can finally finish it since I have it on the DS now.

Also, Chrono Trigger was just an example, I also got Klonoa on the Wii (oddly enough it doesn't even show up in times played on the Wii and it's not even listed in the Nintendo Channel ) So in actuality I don't mind remakes if they are redone in most cases and are priced right.



WonderboY101 said:

I haven't got around to playing Chrono Trigger DS yet. I bought it on release in the UK and it's still sealed along with the music disc. That does not mean I'm a collector though. I just can't devote enough uninterrupted time to play a lengthy RPG just yet, but I'll get to it eventually! I've heard a lot of great things about the game so I'll make it one of my New Year resolutions to play it this year!



CanisWolfred said:

I damn well hope so! Lower prices = accessible to the average joe, not just the rampant collector with fat pockets!



Byg_Juce said:

@ Sabrewing

Rondo of Blood for the PCE and Dracula X for the SNES are two completely different games. Granted, the latter was supposed to be a direct port of the PCE game, it just didn't happen. The SNES game was revamped drastically. Take the bosses of each game for example. The last boss for Rondo is the beginning fight for Symphony while the SNES version has you fighting Dracula with all those ridiculous pits.



Sabrewing said:

@Byg Juce: I know they're different games, but the guy up there was trying to make them sound COMPLETELY unrelated when they're not.



MrPinguy said:

As much Snes Dracula X borrows from Rondo of blood, if you played both you could see that they are different games.
And i didn't say that they were unrelated, in fact i said the opposite in my post.



Objection said:

Long story short, it's good for gamers (those who actually play the titles) and bad for collector's (who often don't, and simply dust their unopened boxes until they can sell them.)

I'm not really against collectors, though. I collect things too, just not games.



Ristar42 said:

Well, I'm a retro collector of sorts but I never got the games for their resale value, mainly just cause I've always been a bit geeky in regard to retro games.
I've got nothing against downloads making rare titles accessible, that's great - if they were 60Hz in Europe that would be even better!
Having said that, as long as the Saturn is the only way to play a proper version of Outrun (thanks to the Japanese Sega Ages disc) on a games console, I wont be putting it in a cupboard just yet...



Chunky_Droid said:

This is a godsend to a collector like myself, I'm still finding it highly irritating how much Gamecube Resident Evil games are being sold on E-Bay however



Vinsanity said:

I really don't understand the retro market. I mean, god, don't games take up enough space? Isn't it ridiculous enough to pay 60 dollars for a modern game, where people routinely complain that a 10 hour campaign is too short? Most SNES games can only entertain for a 10's of MINUTES, not hours, nowadays. Why would you pay such outlandish prices for a cartridge nowadays?

And although I love my classics, I love having them all conveniently on my Wii channels way more. I never got rid of my NES or SNES - heck, I have 3 NES's because they keep breaking down, and my SNES wears that ugly discolored plastic bottom half with pride like any other retro fan's - but doing things the modern way is soooooooooooooooooooo much infinitely better. Hell, I have over 100 games from the LAST generation (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube) alone, and it's a pain-in-the- finding places for all those jewel cases. Why would you hunt down even more older games that take up even more space? I gathered up my NES and SNES games into boxes and put 'em in the attic years ago. I'd much rather play things on modern consoles, the convenient way. Either through digital download a la the Virtual Console or through excellent collections like SNK Arcade Classics and Metal Slug Anthology (both great collections, btw).

While I'll still bust out my SNES to play certain games that haven't been rereleased, it sucks. Believe me, the day Demon's Crest and Sparkster and Metal Warriors hits the VC, I'll be thrilled. In the meantime, I can wait - I don't like emulating unless it's the only way to play certain games. I.e. stuff like Earthbound 2/Mother 3 in English, or games like Legend of the Mystical Ninja/Goemon 2 for Super Famicom. I got no problems doing that if people like NOA are too stupid to listen to fans and bring over such games; It's their lost sale.



Ian_Daemon said:

I owned two different versions of the Sega CD hardware and both were solid. No problems here. (One was sold, the other is still fine.) Did anyone other than the author have problems?



brandonbwii said:

I like having them all on one system. That's why I encourage more VC ports and WiiWare remakes.



RowdyRodimus said:

I call shenanigans on the article. I believe that the market is slowing because the prices were overly inflated to begin with and now with the economy the way it is people don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for a game. Collecting games is a pretty new trend as far as things go it's not like collecting comics or even stamps. But the reason I say that the article is looking at the wrong thing is this- Amazing Fantasy #15 still sells in the tens of thousands of dollars easily even though it's been reprinted hundreds of times, same with any other classic comic. But if you look at a book like Superman #75 (the death of Superman) you can find them in the quarter bin even though they were selling for a hundred bucks around here. Why? Because the price was artificially inflated by the dealers and people finally caught on to it. It has nothing to do with being re-released, it just has to do with people not wanting to pay outrageous prices for something because So and So says it's worth it.



Wardy said:

All of us that have commented are gamers and the consensus is that we would rather play games than not play games. Sounds stupid but like everyone is suggesting, why should we pay 50 bucks for Final Fight 3? People who buy games at the end of the systems lifespan have been lucky to get rare games because people wait for the new systems, but the ones who keep buying til the end are real gamers and collectors and should view it as such, not as a means to make money. If I ever have kids, I would like them to experience the NES and SNES but my NES works when it feels like it, even after changing the 72 pin connector, and my SNES has a major crack in it. Hardware breaks down, software typically doesn't. The video game industry is trying to keep retro gaming alive. Our parents told us about their vinyls and 8 track; those have been replaced with CD's and MP3's and technology has kept alive the music our parents loved and grew up with. This is no different.



Slapshot said:

I got Chrono Trigger finally for DS this Christmas and the little touches that are in it that there I can tell make the gameplay easier and more accessible. Touch Screen control really helps the menu work and it a great portable game. I like the remakes a LOT.



Dicesukeinuzuka said:

8. V8 Ninja
ditto, The cheaper the prices, generally the more people will buy and will experience the game.



Ski_Deuce said:

Did I just read an article on NintendoLife that complicates the issue of piracy and shows that it has gray areas? No way! Usually that kind of talk gets flamed here!



darklinkinfinite said:

I consider myself something of a collector, though I don't have the money these days to really indulge my vices, but I get by.

I personally think re-releases only hurt those that like to hoarde games simply to have something expensive they can resell later. I bought Final Fantasy Tactics on the Playstation for $80 before it was reprinted as a Greatest Hits and the price plummetted. Other than the fact that I could've gotten the game for less, I really don't mind. For me, I collect the originals moreso because I want to own an original game and keep it moreso, because of their contributions to gaming history, than I do because they're worth more.

Am I going to complain that I can get an SNES copy of Chrono Trigger for under $50? Of course not. Am I going to complain that my original copy of Final Fantasy Tactics, Symphony of the Night, or Dracula X aren't worth as much? Again no, because I have no plans to sell them. Its always nice to have something that's worth a lot, but it doesn't matter if something you have is worth a million dollars if you're not going to part with it.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Ski Deuce: Does it? I've talked about the grey areas around here several times without any flaming...we have a great group here, y'know.



Ski_Deuce said:

We do have a great group here, but every article that I can remember NintendoLife posting on the subject of piracy both in the official words of the article and in the words of the users responses have really come down hard on it. I've brought up the subject a couple of times, and while no one has shot me down, the general opinion towards piracy seems to be that it is morally reprehensible in any form. I've looked through my comment history and the articles which I responded to, and I feel confident in what I've stated.



CH405K1N6 said:

There were two points to the VC/XBLA:

1) to show n00b gamers how great the classics can be
2) so retro collectors can stop breaking their necks by searching for a discontinued game on eBay, only to know it goes for such a high price.



Metal_Slime said:

If you're collecting it for yourself, what does it matter what other people have? If you're collecting it just to resell, then play the 'game' the way it works; pay more attention to the re-release schedule and buy/sell accordingly!



KarlThomson said:


The second hand gaming market isn't controlled by dealers the same way stamps and comics are. Those two industries are 'regulated' while this one is basically the wild west when it comes to value.



RowdyRodimus said:

That's what I'm getting at. The people that set the prices for comics (Overstreet, Wizard and CBG usually) base the values they print based on an average of what the title has sold for in a given period based on actual data from dealers and auction. When the price of a video game comes up, we mostly hear "there's a guy selling generic action rpg on ebay for $150" when we should be saying "what has generic action rpg been sold for on average the last few months on ebay".

We hear of values for games not for what they have sold for, but what the seller is asking for it. That's what I meant with the Superman #75 reference. The dealers were asking $100 a copy less than a week after it came out, but nobody bought them so they ended up being worth squat.

I'm not saying that price guides are 100% accurate, because as they are called guides that's what they do, they guide you in a general direction of the price of what you can expect to pay on average, it might be more or less than the price asked and if you think it's a fair price, then that's what it's worth to you.

Although, it does bring up the fact that a magazine like Wizard would be great for video games. The only thing is, the people would have to be honest in the research and not buy up 10000 unopened copies of Zoop on the Genesis and say they are worth $100 bucks so they can sell them. (Wizard did that with a Cpt. America issue a few years back when Bucky took over as Cap and the fans basically told them to go make love to themselves lol)



cat said:

I colect video games to and ist funny,but I don't have the same tast in a rereleases games or emulation games that I have in the original, play'them in the original cosole



Sintra4 said:

@9. Looks like you and whoever wrote that rediculous article need to look up Sean Malstrom.



Frog said:

I used to own a lot of NES, SNES, and N64 classics and they were all sold in a yard sale, so I'm quite happy with the Virtual Console. I'm hoping Nintendo brings the same concept over to the DSi or its next portable system.

Also, I skipped the GCN and had an Xbox so I appreciate the New Play Control series and ports of GCN and PS2 games as long as they are done well.



SilverBaretta said:

The thing with emulation is that it can be used legally to have all your games in one convenient place. But many people just use it for piracy. Pirates took something that was supposed to make things easier, and turned it somewhat taboo for the gaming world.



michaelmax said:

I could care less what some hoarder gets for his mint condition copy of some old game that he kept because it would be "worth something". I do think people who collect original games will still want to collect them. As for me I'm not into the whole collecting thing if you couldn't tell. What i am into is being able to conveniently (and legally) enjoy retro games at a fair price. Something that wasn't really possible a few years ago. So I'm thrilled and very grateful for the VC market. Finally the retro gaming market has caught up with the rest of the world. For instance, if you wanted to watch a really old movie or buy a really old music album, all you have to do is go to the store and buy it for a reasonable price. Or better yet, buy it from itunes or something like that. You don't have to actually find the "originally packaged" record or vhs from some collector in another part of the world who will sell it to you for 300 dollars. Well, that's how it was with games (either that or illegally emulate the roms...which i'm against), but thankfully not anymore. The collectors can still collect, but for us regular gamers...long live the vc.

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